Cleaning the Pool on New Year's Eve

(One of my goals for 2021 is to write more personal essay-type posts here, and this is the first. I am not giving up the bookish content, don't worry! Nonfiction writing has interested me more and more over the past few years, so I'm having some fun using this space as a place to experiment). 

At 11:40 PM on New Year's Eve I peeled by body off of the exceptionally comfy couch and went outside to skim leaves off the top of the pool (despite already having done it that afternoon). It was cold, by Southern California standards, and my flip flops weren't helping the cause. And yet, here I was, being a responsible, albeit neurotic, homeowner. 

While I was out trying to locate leaves in the darkness, I realized that this, being out practically in the middle of the night on a holiday, was basically me, and my issues, in a nutshell. On one level I was hunting for soggy foliage for extremely practical reasons- my pool guy had taken a week off for the holidays and I'm not strong enough to open the top of container in the pool pump that collects the debris the vacuum sucks in. If this contraption becomes too full the pump is taxed and the whole system won't work and could potentially break, resulting in a hefty bill and accompanying extra stress. The only way to prevent this is by skimming the top of the water so that leaves and whatnot don't sink to the bottom of the pool. See? Super practical and responsible. Gold stars all-around, bring on the Girl Scout badge for taking care of business. 

Unfortunately, I have become slightly obsessed with keeping my pool clean and making sure it runs properly, because I am a tad bit terrified of my pool guy and of the drama a large pool repair will cause. He hates my beautiful landscaping because of the various little petals, leaves, seed pods, etc... that it drops in the water year-round and has asked me more than once to cut back. I told him I'd have a tree or two removed, but I never really fully intended to do so after about a day of considering it (it's my yard! We live in suburbia and the houses are very close together... my trees and bushes provide privacy as well as beauty, thanks). To compensate, and not make him mad, I obsessively skim the water so that when he comes on Fridays it's as spotless as possible. 

Yes. That's right. I am worried that the man I pay to keep my pool clean is going to be mad if it's not clean when he comes. Believe me, it sounds ridiculous to my own ears as well. But what if he quits and I have to find someone new and what if they mess up the expensive equipment or charge a lot more or don't come when they're supposed to? I think that I've mistakenly given the perception to friends, family, and acquaintances who don't truly know me that I don't care what other people think. That's not entirely true- I mean, I clean my pool before the pool guy comes because I don't want to make him mad. Clearly, I'm a people a pleaser, to some degree (it gets complicated: see below). A resentful, self-aware people-pleaser, but one nonetheless. Sure, I may post sassy little status updates and post the occasional no-nonsense meme, but really, the opinions of others kind of matter. 

If we're getting down the buts and bolts of things, I don't care what everyone thinks- I have to make that complicated too, so it seems. I care what my friend and I call "the inner circle" thinks- the family members who you are close to and the friends you don't clean your house much for when they come to visit. I deeply value those relationships and their opinions matter to me. Then there are the people who are closely connected to specific things that I am responsible for that I care about the opinions of- my students and their parents (I'm in charge of their learning), certain administrators and people involved in the IB program at my school (again, student learning and well-being), healthcare professionals involved in the care of my son and I (I'm supposed to keep us healthy), my son's teachers (I'm responsible for helping my kid learn), my tax lady (I handle our household finances), and, you guessed it... the pool guy... since I'm -yay- in charge of keeping the pool clean. The in-between people? Cousins I haven't seen in years? Other family members I don't ever truly talk to? High school friends I exchange simple pleasantries with on social media? The woman who works at the grocery store? Colleagues in different departments I smile hello to in the hall and keep walking by? Those people can think whatever they'd like about me- I don't have the capacity to dwell on their opinions (which they're of course entitled to). I can't have all those tabs open in my head- it'll slow me down and I need all my energy for pool skimming. 

Also tied to this is an intense "if I say I'm going to do something then I'm going to do it" stick-to-it-ness that is both a blessing and a curse. If we're being honest, it's one part dedication but also one part stubbornness. This unwillingness to back down is what has caused me to fall in the stupid pool twice, once hurting my leg pretty badly hopping around on planters to get the tough-to-clean spots, and another in my full work clothes and makeup in between classes. This has also caused me to wake up between 4:30 and 5:00 most mornings to confirm that the pool has kicked on and I can hear the water flowing. This may have also resulted in my getting up and skimming the pool at 4:45 in the morning once, when I was up all night listening to the wind howl, knowing the pool would be a mess when in started running at 4:36 am (no, I did not fall in wearing pajamas). In all fairness, this quality has also brought me success in life and a great deal of productivity, so it's not all negative. Unchecked, though? It can be a problem (clearly). 

Let's sum this up: I am a responsible, neurotic, obsessive, anxious, stubborn, persistent, sort-of-people-pleaser who literally loses sleep over a giant cement hole filled with water outside. I mean, what's the worst that can happen? The pool equipment breaks causing me thousands of dollars and causing exceptional drama in my household? And my pool guy inevitably quits?  Pretty much.

If you need me, I'll probably be outside skimming the pool. 


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  2. A pool vacuum hose isn't anything like a normal house vacuum hose. A pool hose will undergo the extremes of internal water pressure, debris, and harsh chemicals; as a result it will need to bear up under all of these stresses. When you decide upon the proper length of hose you should be sure to think it through prior to your purchase. It cannot be stressed enough that you should be able to have your pool vacuum hose easily reach the opposite side of the pool at its furthest distance.